U.S. Department of Justice



Date of this Version



Federal Bureau of Investigation Freedom of Information/Privacy Acts (1939)


Memorandum for Mr. Tolson

Hon. J. Edgar Hoover, FBI

Dear Sir,

Is the old time Jessie James still alive? This week there was here in this place a man who claimed to be the original Jessie James. He exhibited himself at a picture show here.

I talked with him at a hotel here for over an hour, and he talked very convincingly that he was the original Jessie James of outlaw fame. He is an old man of 90 years old, and he talked like he was telling honest facts within his experience.

I never did dream that I would ever see Jessie James.

I know that you are in touch with all such, and I would be glad to hear from you about this, and thanking you.

Dear X,

Your letter of March 10, 1949 has been received. In response to your inquiry, the Encyclopedia Britannica indicates that Jesse James, the notorious outlaw, was born on September 5, 1847 in Clay County, Missouri. He became the leader of the "James Band" of bank and train robbers in 1967 and as a result of a $10,000 reward offered by Governor Crittenden of Missouri for his capture dead or alive, two members of his own band turned traitors and shot and instantly killed him in his home at St. Joseph, Missouri, April 3, 1882.

Sincerely yours,

John Edgar Hoover, Director